athlete sendoff SOP

Special Olympics Pilipinas Sends off Delegates with Heartfelt Celebration

With heartfelt joy, Special Olympics Pilipinas concluded its athlete send-off party by shining the spotlight on our delegates who proudly represented the country for the Special Olympics World Games 2023. The event, held at the Enderun Colleges Gymnasium in Bonifacio Global City on June 3, honored the 6 remarkable athletes with intellectual disabilities and 2 Unified Partners who competed from June 17 to 25, celebrating their incredible talent and achievements in the world of sports.

The event gathered over a hundred attendees, including sponsors and esteemed partners such as Decathlon Philippines, Macquarie Group, Bounty Agroventures, Steeze Corporation, and the Department of Education. Notable speeches by Chooks-to-Go President Ronald Mascariñas and Pasig City Councilor Angelou de Leon also emphasized unity, perseverance, and the transformative power of these athletes. 

With unwavering support, the nation bid them farewell and wished them success on the global stage, showcasing the remarkable abilities and limitless potential of individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Let’s take a look at what happened during the send-off party:

The inside edition

The SOP athlete send-off started by putting the limelight on the delegates. The team will be participating in three sports namely:

  • Aquatics with Princess Garcia and Noel Cartera
  • Bocce with Robin Conanan and Kamille Tingzon with Unified Partners Jo-fhrey Parcarey and Cristine Guimbaolibot; and
  • Athletics with Flordeliza Baento and Marco Fabile Gaite 

Joining the delegation are Akiko Thomson-Guevara, Special Olympics Pilipinas National Chairperson, President, and Head of Delegation together with other partners, coaches, and assistant coaches. 

Heartfelt messages

Akiko also provided a speech that set the tone for the event. As the most accomplished Filipina swimmer in the Southeast Asian Games with 7 SEA Games Gold medals and 3 appearances in Summer Olympic Games under her belt, she expressed her goal to be more involved in the space of inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities from her own experiences as a mother to a daughter with Down’s Syndrome. The 2023 Special Olympics World Games in Berlin is also going to be her first time being a part of the delegation, which makes the event even more special for her. 

She shared, “On behalf of the SOP Board, [I want to express] how proud we are of this team. It’s a small team, but a very significant one especially after the whole COVID restructuring. For me, this is the first time that our athletes are being recognized and celebrated in the way that they should be.” 

She continued by expressing her gratitude for the sponsors. Who helped make everything possible for SOP as well as the future plans of the organization “We have so much gratitude for all our sponsors and partners who have made this possible. This is the first time that none of our team is shelling out personal funds. We even surpassed the amount that we needed to send our team there.” 

They then gave the spotlight to long-time sponsor Chooks-to-Go. The private business under Bounty Agroventures has not only provided financial support but has also expanded its partnership with Special Olympics Pilipinas by employing people with intellectual disabilities as well. Moreover, this year also marks the first time that the organization is engaging with the Department of Education for its initiatives. Finally, Thomson-Guevara gave a shout-out to Angelu De Leon, City Counselor of Pasig who SOP has been working with for its initiatives. 

Insights from the athletes

During the program, Flordeliza “Liza” Baento of Athletics also shared her experience as a person with an intellectual disability. In her touching speech, she shared her past experiences of being bullied until she finally found her confidence with SOP. One of her key messages was: “A lesson I learned as an athlete is to become more independent. And to always be on time.” She also added, “Naranasan ko nang tuksuhin at pag-tawanan. […] Nung makilala ko ang Special Olympics Pilipinas, nag-bago ang buhay ko. Masaya ako dahil marami akong nakilala na athletes.”

Fe Conanan, the mother of Robin Conanan, also gave thanks to the organization for the support and empowerment it gives to athletes with intellectual disabilities. 

Other highlights of the event included members of SOP exchanging stories about their experiences. Dacki showcased his tote bags featuring inclusion-promoting artwork while Derek sold his cookies at the send-off event. Finally, there was Alexander Soriano, who shared his rendition of the song ‘With A Smile’. Kamille Tingzon closed the athlete send-off by inviting everyone to dance with her to famous Tiktok trends. 

A courageous hand for support

With the overflowing support of friends and families, the delegation was also supported by brands and private individuals that have a similar belief in inclusion for all. These people and businesses helped the delegation be able to attend the World Games and support Special Olympics Pilipinas continue its mission for Inclusion Revolution. Listed here are the official sponsors of Special Olympics Pilipinas for the World Games.

  • Philippine Sports Commission
  • Bounty Agro ventures
  • ESports International
  • International School Manila – Inclusion Revolution Club
  • Pharos – UA&P
  • Decathlon Philippines
  • Nyxsys Philippines
  • PSOP
  • Speedo
  • GoPro
  • Aircast
  • Plus Network
  • Mama Sita’s
  • Steeze Corporation
  • LGR
  • KO Patissier
  • 415 Marketing
  • Mr. Mel Macasaet
  • Ms. Patsy Zobel de Ayala
  • Mr. Robinson Siao
  • Mr. Don Buhain
  • Mr. Gerard Coscolluela
  • Mr. Eric Buhain
  • Glenn Garcia
  • Marissa Remo Luzentalez
  • Katty Villariasa
  • Brina Maxino
  • Modern Arts Printing
  • Isla Malaya Quiwa
  • Dr. Yvonne Santos Guevara

Marking another milestone with SO Pilipinas

SOP’s participation in the Berlin Special Olympics World Games marks another milestone for the organization. However, this is only the start for athletes with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics Pilipinas is inviting everyone to be volunteers so we can all make a change for the community. For more information about how you can become a volunteer, click the link here

Envision a world where equality and acceptance reign. A world where individuals unite to foster true inclusion. By dismantling barriers and embracing diversity, we can construct a society that is equitable and compassionate for everyone. 💪

You can also help Special Olympics Pilipinas make a change by donating your Globe Reward points on the Globe One App! Your points will help us create and maintain programs that help people with intellectual disabilities overcome social stigma through sports.

Donate by following these steps:

  • Download the GlobeOne app and log in
  • Tap on Rewards points
  • Search for Pilipinas Special Olympics
  • Select the denomination of points you want to donate
  • Click Redeem and wait for the confirmation screen

Interested in helping financially more directly? Visit our Donation page here. Thank you for your continued support for Inclusion for All!

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